First Year of Marriage; I’m Heading off on a 4 Month Trip Solo

by Jennifer

My husband and I did not know if we make would it through our first year of marriage.

We still are not there a full year. Our first year anniversary will hit March 21, 2017.

And I’m set to head off on a 4-month gig that is relocating me across the country.

Most people would be skeptical as to whether our marriage is solid. It can be challenging for either of us to link up long-term as we are both adventurous, independent ENTP‘s (Myers Briggs Personality Test) – subsection that 3% of the American population makes up. “Debaters,” we are described as those who “are on a constant quest for knowledge…(that) enjoy the mental exercise found in questioning the prevailing mode of thought, making them irreplaceable in reworking existing systems or shaking things up and pushing them in clever new directions.”

Therefore, Sandy and I do not adhere to societal norms; we search for our own meaning and sense of “right” and “wrong” in a world shaped around mores and customs. This is awfully handy while we watch each other dig wrapped sandwiches and salads out of Pret A Manger’s curbside, black trash bags and don’t bat an eye, even encouraging each other when we make out with a good haul. We support each other’s need for solidarity and reflection at times, and it is only in my greater desire for turbulence and his for stability that things start to violently stir at times.

Naoshima Island

Naoshima Island

January 26, I will head off to California for 4 months. Many are concerned about the why; but even more are concerned with the “how,” in terms of our relationship.

Ask me a year ago whether I thought it was healthy or feasible for us to be apart for more than a year, and I would have said, “No.” However, flash forward to now, when I feel so secure in our financial investments in properties in Jersey City and Hoboken, partially from our both working our tails off over the last eight years of our lives. Although I love my husband, I am searching for meaning on a greater scale. Working one-on-one with kids, all within the top 1% of America/the world, through tutoring is not sufficient for me to think that I am truly doing my part in teaching others how to improve our society. I am grateful for my job, and I love all of the families that I work with. However, having the opportunity to teach college students on a massive scale about the importance of reducing meat in their lifestyle – therefore, inducing changes in their food choices – therefore, leading to greater health, animal living conditions, and environmental and societal impact for the world – is something that in my heart I know I can not resist.

I’m fortunate that I have a family that has always told me to follow my heart, even if I am often driven to follow my head (typical ENTP), and a husband that believes in my ability to make sound decisions that allow for me to be a better me, ultimately benefiting our relationship as I develop more confidence in awareness in how I am leading my life. I would love to be less of a pain in the ass, but the saving grace of our relationship is that there is such a level of understanding, curiosity, and empathy – more often on his part – that allows us to be who we are, whether or not it bucks any sense of traditional marriage.

Art Island, outside Takamatsu, Japan

Art Island, outside Takamatsu, Japan

Becoming a Vegan Mentor

by Jennifer

It’s easy.

Vegan Outreach

Head to Vegan Mentor Program and complete an online application.

They will hook you up with someone who is looking for a mentor, or if you are seeking a mentor you can find one here (or email me as I’d love to support you in your transition!

Here’s a sampling of my answers:

Please write something (a short paragraph) you want your Mentee to know about you.

  • Hello Mentee. My name is Jennifer, and I’m a long-term vegetarian, recently vegan, who has been lucky enough to have the support of my longterm vegan husband to see me through my transition into veganism.  It has been challenging for me to say good bye to yogurt, cheese, etc 100% of the time, as I’m easily tempted to cheat when I see a tub of Cookie N Cream ice cream in the freezer of one of my petsits.  However, I know what I am doing is the noble and righteous thing to help save cows all over the world from the fate of becoming another abused dairy cow. Now, I know that not everyone has such support, so I’m hoping to provide it to you as you make this self-sacrificing, sometimes challenging transition into reducing meat and/or dairy in your life.  I have all the respect for you and want to do my best to make you feel that you have a cheerleader in your corner that can provide you advice and motivation to continue down this path.  I won’t judge you if you have slip-ups and will instead look to support you and encourage you as you improve the world little by little through your decisions!


Would you advise a mentee to adopt a restricted version of a vegan diet such as no processed foods, no cooked foods, gluten-free, only organic, etc., and why? 

  • Yes. I would advise them to take whatever path they choose, so long as they are aware of certain vegan vitamin supplements they can add to their diets to ensure they are hitting the various calorie types, vitamins, and minerals that they should look to consume daily. I won’t pass judgement on others for pursuing a specific diet, as I myself have been following a Raw Till 4 diet for the last few weeks and having been feeling great about my decision to follow a diet that is nearly 100% waste-free and healthy when supplemented by vitamins.

How would you respond to your mentee if s/he said, “I decided to go vegan and I’m getting a lot of negative reactions from friends and family. How should I respond to them?”


  • Often I think people are negative about veganism because they feel some level of guilt about their own choices to not pursue such a lifestyle.  Although it may not be said, they may feel that there is some level of judgement that will be passed on them by the person choosing a vegan lifestyle. Therefore, I think it is important that people pursuing veganism should approach detractors with an awareness of this mindset.
  • While it is wonderful that you have “awoken” to the horrors of livestock and the benefits of a vegetarian or vegan lifestyle, you cannot assume others have or are ready for this.  Therefore, judgement should not be passed on others, and one should help others to feel at ease by expressing to them that while you are choosing to refrain from eating meat and/or dairy, you do not judge them for continuing to consume animal products.
  • Next, you can choose to explain your reasoning.  Discuss the harmful conditions of livestock. You do not need to convince them to go meatless, but you can certainly serve as an advocate for vegetarianism or veganism by educating others as to the realities of life inside a dairy farm or slaughterhouse. Those that are willing to watch the 10 Billion Lives video or Earthlings, you can recommend these films to, so they can choose to educate themselves of the horrors of livestock.
  • However, take things one step at a time. Assume that every person has their own path and way of thinking, and that while they may begrudge your lifestyle at the moment, it is not to say that they will never change their minds about this condition.
  • Keep your relationships strong, and do not let this choice be a divisive matter in your lives as what you choose to put in your body does not affect anyone else, beyond improving the world on a general level.


Happy New Year… New Job, New Lifestyle!

by Jennifer


Olive Boo, my favorite black cat.

Olive Boo, my favorite black cat.

This girl is hitting the road – 1/26 – 5/22 – to work as a Tour Operator for the 10 Billion Lives Campaign.

I’ll be heading across the country, setting up viewing kiosks all around California and the Southwest, to show viewers the terrible conditions that farm animals – cagefree and free range alike – suffer in order to make it onto the plate.

You can make a change. We can make a change. Check out the link below to learn more.

Banana Diet

by Jennifer

WHY ARE YOU ON A BANANA DIET?! That sounds… bananas!

Technically, I am on Raw Till 4

Why Raw Till 4?

Because Shakeology and all those other diets prescribed by companies are mostly looking to make a profit. They are effective, but I just don’t like the idea of purchasing their products every week. I want something easy, sustainable, unprocessed, and un-manufactured.

Benefits of Raw Till 4

  • High energy – unlike low-carb diets that have left me feeling sluggish, bananas are a well known source of energy, so you are able to complete workouts as per the usual.
  • Eat as much as you like – bananas are surprisingly satisfying and filling, despite their one note nutrients and chemistry. I crave eating some lentil soup or mixing the bananas up into a smoothie, but supplementing these items is enough for me to  not feel a lack.
  • Cheap – 5 bananas is about $1.  Eat 20 a day for $4 or 30 for $6. Throw in some protein powder, soy milk, and vitamins, and it can be a lot long term sustainable and healthy.
  • Low waste – especially if you can escape the unnecessary practice of bananas wrapped in plastic, as the skins can be composted.

Protein and soy milk containers can be recycled

 How Do you Do Raw Till 4?

FAQ From Banana Girl herself, Freelee



Cleanse my pallet.

Simplify my food choices

Do something outrageous to my body

Shed a couple of sedentary pounds that slip on when I deviate from my more active days of 8 mile runs and 10 mile bike rides

Feel good

Unfaithful to the idea

A Break from New York City

by Jennifer

Today I went left along the levee during my morning jog.

River Ridge - New Orleans levee

River Ridge – New Orleans levee

Sandy headed out earlier, as I recycled and tossed the unwrappings of Christmas present the day before. He went straight across, off the path, something I think infrequently done. When there are no signs to tell us what not to do we have to make assumptions as to how we are doing wrong, and heading off the jogging path can seem a hazard or at least a convenience walking across grass soaked with a long, gray morning mist.

He heads off to explore.
I jog and think of the implications of returning to New York City.

Why don’t I say “returning home?
I have lived there 8 years.
Transience comes with its price.

Being in New Orleans is a fitting place for such speculation, as Sandy’s sister, Katie, has shifted from visitor to “home” in a matter of three years.
Year 1: Meets the man, she, a year later,
Year 2: marries and buys a house with
Year 3: has a baby with

She finds fulfilling employment, a mentor, and a career in a new field – a tech field – website interface design.
Her husband’s family is happy to welcome her and treat her as one of their own.

Like magic her roots set.
She has found her home.

Concerned about my current state of restlessness, seeing her so happily settled makes me question, “Am I looking in the wrong place? Living the wrong life? Making inadequate choices?”

Sandy asks me as we are driving, “Where would you want to live in NYC?”
I’m noncommital and mumble my instant reaction, “Chelsea,” although I feel less sure of my answer than I have in weeks.

Chelsea seemed a possibility a month back when I thought I’d continue down the lucrative path of tutoring and homeschooling for the top 1%. Offers exist to do this, but I’m teetering over my resolve to do something that directly benefits those in greater need. Use my skills to spread the wealth of knowledge. If I accept a nonprofit job, I can kiss my dreams of the Chelsea apartment goodbye. And so I have.

So I’m back to square one. Where is home? I’m quite unsure.
Where am I returning?
New York City.


The Beginning of NY Nomads

by Jennifer

 NY Nomads

Where shall we start?

When there’s no end.

No home.


a member of a people having no permanent abode, and who travel from place to place to find fresh pasture for their livestock.

itinerant, traveler, migrant, wanderer, roamer, rover

a person who does not stay long in the same place; a wanderer.

I live day-to-day in different homes around NYC.

I’m technically homeless

For two months out of the year, I live on the road.

This blog starts chronologically in Japan, with a month-long trip my husband and I spent there over the summer of 2016.

However, this blog is truly beginning now –

December 25, 2016.

New Orleans.

Levee - River Ridge

Where everything is both fresh and old.

On the cusp of something new.


Mount Fuji

by Jennifer

Sandy summited, while just 400 meters below the summit I lay in a fetal position, a pile of tiny volcanic rock grating across my skin as I prayed that sleep would help me get down the summit without the use of emergency services.


Milk Tea and Camping in Hakone

by Jennifer

Beverage of choice: sweetened tea with milk

Either served cold in a paper carton from Lipton at 100 yen from any convenience store or so hot in a can from a vending machine that I play hot potato till I can find a high enough place to set it down without my heavy backpack causing me to perform a serious squat exercise in returning to standing position.

An abundance of milky teas choices in japan
An abundance of milky teas choices in japan

I walk enough to avoid added exercise in my daily routine.

Fuck stairs. Where are the escalators?

In the night, about 9:30p, we were woken by voices. Sandy quickly grabbed the blanket and draped it over his airing balls. The sound of footfalls on the concrete steps leading to our campground. Not again.

A young man’s voice. A female, light, hint of nervous, giggle and we realized we were in the middle of this guy’s date night plans.

To forestall any creeping around our tent, when Sandy saw the man’s flashlight a lighting in our tent, he shot up and yelled to him, “Hello. Do you speak English?”

Just as good a spot to camp as any
Just as good a spot to camp as any

The man was completely startled. I can only imagine his face looking like that of one climbing slowly up dark stairs in a horror movie and finding himself startled by something at the top of the steps. He took a moment to compose himself and sidled, “Yes. A little,” and skipped back down the stairs to the 2nd floor balcony choosing to concede the coveted top floor to us.

I remained in a fetal position, trying to ignore this foray, listening as the man both credulously and fiercely whispered “Gaijin!” to his questioning female partner who had probably turned back down in horror seeing our tent looming at the top of the stairs.

“Foreigners,” is the translation of what he said. Having looked up what Eric meant when he wrote we ought to “gaijin smash” on our way out of Japan – which loosely means that foreigners assert themselves in ways that defy Japanese tradition with little rebuff as the natives are too polite and non-confrontational to curb our rude behavior – I later chuckled to myself that one could make a Japanese horror movie of a protagonist constantly being accosted by foreigners committing minor faux pas’s to the point of madness.

Anyway, not long after this hushed whisper we heard the fireworks start. Low, infrequent rumbles that made them seem launched by amateurs, but before long, a 20 minutes display continued. I’m not sure what the fireworks were for, and have no curiosity to inquire, as it was all rather another odd coincidence in a series of funny inconveniences.

Sleep continued intermittently, but I did not care as each time I woke enjoyed walling to the opposite end of the long balcony where I could squat and peeing into a gutter, sitting and listening to it pool at the top before tinkling down the drain.


Morning at 4a, a little breakfast, packing up, and off we went to the public bathroom down the street to wash up, put on sunblock, and start our 6 hour hike down the rolling roads of Hakone, back to Odewara JR station.

No fishing allowed in the Gora Station bathrooms
No fishing allowed in the Gora Station bathrooms

A luxury, we later discovered, to be up so early and walking when it was cool. At 9a it started to cook – inching towards 90, although the shade of all the tree lined roads made it feel cooler than walking under the open gray skies of Tokyo’s imperial garden. “Good experience” I figured as in a day we would be waking up at midnight to climb Japan’s highest peak, Mount Fuji.

Mount Fuji is a bit of a daunting task for me. At 13,000 feet, the altitude alone poses a threat to my health and my ability to summit. That, a lack of recent hiking, and low will power stand in my way. Sandy, on the other hand, temporarily lived and ran at this height while in Ecuador. He had hiked Chimborazo, at 20,700 feet. He also has a lot more will power than me.

Sandy would make it. I might die – or more likely pass out and need an expensive ambulance to take me down the mountain. At the least it would be really cold at night, and with my poor blood circulation leaving my limbs frosty as ice, I would be partially miserable. However, many of us do things we won’t enjoy because we enjoy the challenge – like Sandy toting an extremely heavy backpack all around Japan – complete with tent, macbook air, and everything else he would need during our trip.

Why do we do so many things we don’t really like to do?

“Because we have so much time on this Earth,” I think to myself as I spend six hours walking down Hakone with my own heavy backpack.

First Night in Tokyo

by Jennifer

Part 1: Missing Luggage and a Tokyo Rooftop Respite

We got to Japan and arrived at a line that had many a constant traveler in the crowd claiming, “It’s never like this,” as the line snaked its way back and forth 10 lines of queues and out into another room. 1.5 hours of waiting. A kid not far ahead of us, part of an exchange group of middle schoolers from Canada, spent the whole time leaning over a vomit bag, green to the gills. I could not understand that Narita did not make an exception for this, the child was so clearly ill.


 Goes without saying that much of Narita airport continued with this heavy feeling as when we finally made it through customs, the wait had been so long our checked bag no longer had a designated corral to be retrieved from. Eager to get out of there, I walked and waited in the customs line, hoping Sandy would arrive shortly with the bag and we would stroll on out of there.

Five times over I made my through the queue at customs and then finally gave up to search for Sandy, who had been making a claim of lost luggage.

This was a hitch as we had thought to get some nap time on the Shinkansen (bullet train) to Sapporo. Where to go? How would we sleep? We took a bus to Tokyo to start looking for a place to sleep. 20 minutes in United called to say they found our bag, but by then it was too late to return and claim our lost bag that night.

After exchanging our 21-Day Japanese Rail vouchers for the actual tickets, I was too exhausted to venture out into the night, so we located a 24 hour manga cafe a mile away that charges $15/head for 7 hours, and $1/hour after. Having just blown $56 on the airport bus to Tokyo station, I was all about cutting any costs and started looking hard and steely at each quiet side street we passed for a possible crook for us to sleep unawares tonight.

As we walked I noticed many buildings had entrances and elevators that people, very unlike NYC, seamlessly entered without an RFID electronic key or doorman to check them in. We passed a number of these before I suggested to Sandy that we try walking in one and find a space to camp, knowing that at 7p most of the offices looked closed.

We slipped into a nondescript building, took an elevator as high as we could to the 8th floor and low and behold all the employees were gone. Even better there was an unlocked bathroom, a small galley kitchen with a sink and one burner, and an outdoor stairway that led to a roof with a small space tucked in behind the hearing and cooling elements of the building that we could also unawares to anyone else.

View from our rooftop "hotel"
View from our rooftop "hotel"

The floor was hard concrete, and our tent was in the lost bag. However, we spread out the blanket I had pinched from our flight, stuffed some clothing under our heads, and took gratitude in the lack of rain and warm night air that allowed us to sleep on the roof without trouble.

Part 2: Busted

Getting busted. And a wealth of good will.

Woke up at 1a, feeling good after 5 hours of sleep in the hard ground. Sandy and I decided to take a stroll and see if we could find a bite anywhere – restaurant or garbage picking, but much was closed and we saw Japanese people don’t seem to waste as much food. We watched the glowing figures of construction men at work – construction, road repair, garbage pickup. Japan makes such a sound choice requisitioning these men to perform such labor at a time that will leave most others undisturbed. Things are magically fixed overnight and these men need not deal with the heat or the traffic of the day time.


At 3a, when we returned, not ten minutes had passed when we heard the elevator lifting. Thinking the building was empty we both turned and faced each other with looks of anticipation and turned our attention back to the door as it slid open and a tired gentleman wandered out and looked taken aback with surprise. We started out apologizing and pointed at the rain outside, trying to explain – sadly in English – that we were in here temporarily to escape the rain. He shook his head and mumbled, “No, no, no,” looking exasperated.

We did not want to cause him any trouble, so we packed up and headed downstairs. I felt relief that he did not try to hold us and call the cops. Harmless though we are, I would not blame him for being frightened. One can never guess what squatters are up to, and even those that look harmless may damage, steal, or leave a mess behind.

The downpour outside was no real cause for alarm as across the street we found a deep and dark covered entrance of a parking garage. It was much cooler to be outside and the sound of the rain was soothing. Neither of us was none too tired, so I settled in to write while Sandy hopped from one awning to the next in the rain, looking for an outlet to charge our phones. Finding none he came back.

Minutes later, we stared in astonishment when we saw the man that had just shooed us out of the building, exit the building and wave, beckoning us to return inside. We felt bad for disturbing him earlier and and shook our hands in a gesture that meant “Thanks, but no need.” He insisted, not leaving the doorway till we got up and headed his way.

It didn’t feel creepy; there was only kindness. He seemed to have changed his mind about the young adults he had found crashing in his building. Maybe he thought we were homeless. He directed us back to our spot on the 8th floor and we thanked him profusely as we settled in and plugged our electronics to charge. He ascended to the floor above, and it was then that we knew he must be the superintendent of the building.

10 minutes later he descended and asked us to join him in his small room upstairs. He did not speak much English, but enough to ask if we were married. Assuringly, I could truthfully answer yes, as we followed him up the steps into his office.

“A very small room,” he cautioned, trying not to allow our expectations to be diminished. It was a fairly tidy room and here we said hello and goodbye to another man who been visiting – a coworker? a friend? I do not know. He was equally taken aback, but introduced himself and shook our hands.

“Are you hungry? Have you eaten dinner?” he asked, rubbing his belly to give us further indication as to what he meant. Overwhelmed by his generosity, and not wanting to further trouble him, I replied, “No. We are great.”

In a kind man's office, drying from the rain
In a kind man's office, drying from the rain

He then left us in his room and stepped outside, returning 10 minutes later with two pints of apple and orange juice, next asking which we preferred. If it did not break my heart, this man with visibly meagre means, who we had frightened with our surprising presence that dreary night, had gone out, purchased these drinks, and then poured us each a glass.

We warmed up to each other chatting. We answered his questions – we had just arrived and had a suitcase lost and then found, but irretrievable till the next morning. We were not on our honeymoon, but we’re recently married. From NYC. 1st time to Japan for Sandy and 5th time for me, although it had been 14 years since I had been to Japan. He lived nearby, but when it was late, he said he slept in his office, motioning to the rolling chair that he sleeps in.

Seeing that he may need to sleep, we offered to return to the 8th floor. He responded by handing us a blanket and a sleeping bag to lay out on the floor, which we did, taking off our shoes, and laying down for a rest. He dimmed the lights, went to his chair, and put on some light piano music for us all to fall asleep to.

Such a nice way to end the night.

We Made It To Japan!

by Jennifer

We made it to Japan!
Now to find where to sleep tonight. Cause it’s 2pm and sleep was intermittent during the 12 hour flight.

Intentionally traveling without room bookings and a desire to camp as much as possible as it is generally accepted to do so in Japan’s parks. So we will decide where we want to look homeless tonight. Luckily Japan is a fairly safe place to travel, so hopefully we are not taken unawares and instead find ourselves with flush with funds to spend on experiences rather than comfort.

We did both put out for a 21 Day JR Rail Pass that allows us unlimited rides on many lines running throughout the country, so I imagine some days we will book the longest train ride we can find, fall asleep, and awake in a new place – killing two birds with one stone – sleep and distance.

I’ve been fucking with my sleep pattern the last few days to make jet lag less of a drag. It will just feel normal being tired and wanting to intersperse my day with naps that feel like sleepwalking because I feel too much my presence during, than my refreshment after, a nap.

Must block out all light and sound -- Jen naps on the flight
Must block out all light and sound -- Jen naps on the flight

Inflight Viewing

10 Cloverfield Lane was so good – suspense, mystery, John Goodman.

The Lobster – very weird. The main character has to find a partner while staying at a hotel or he will be turned into an animal. He may choose the type of small, which is quite generous, as he will then have a second chance at finding a partner – although that partner will have to be the same animal as him if they are to live together… He chooses to be a lobster because they can live to be over 100 years old and they get to swim in the ocean.

The Danish Girl – didn’t know he actually undergoes a sequel change surgery. Eddie Redmayne is quite fun to watch in this, although it would be nice to see him not squint, bat his eyelashes, and smile every time he is engaged.

Zoolander 2 – I saw no point to continue watching

A Bigger Splash – dreamy, sneaky

IP Man 3 – classic, kung fu movie, but sure is Mr. IP and his school a pleasant, polite, and controlled bunch of men, even when they are kicking ass

What I Ate on the Plane

Drank a can of tomato juice, seltzer, and a decaf coffee with a drop of milk.

Vegan meals – specially requested by Sandy! Yay! Indian curry and rice for dinner, a spinach and lentil breakfast wrap, and lots of pre-packaged vegan chocolate chip cookies.

The Vegan Meal on our United Airlines flight
The Vegan Meal on our United Airlines flight

I did not eat a ton of what they offered as I am going the way of Eco Atkins while I travel – no majorly carby food (no flat out grains, breads, anything with sugar, including fruit) but vegetarian. Luckily we recently had found about a pound of shredded cabbage and carrots in the trash – sealed and fresh – so I ate this, 4 veggie burgers, and some low-carb, high fiber, net 6 carbs each tortilla wraps.

Sandy kept his tray down the whole flight, so we could rest our food and cups, and trade the chickpeas from his Indian vegan meal for my Jasmine rice.
What sacrifice! He takes good care of me.

I have 5 protein bars in my bag, but I’m hoping I don’t touch them.
“Why don’t you throw them out, so you don’t eat them?” I imagine my grandmother’s chortling voice.

They are the lesser evil to the green tea soft serve and the many types of pan (bread – pastry) that will call me like sirens to their sugary, crusty cliffs and throw me into waves of golden dough.


I’ve turned 30 – the point of no return in terms of staying svelte with little effort, and I refuse to become fat and old. One I can deal with, but not both! I have not committed to botox – to squinting my eyes as tears well up in the corners as the needles prick, prick, prick across my forehead filling in the collagen gaps. Routine botox cannot be any worse than receiving tattoos annually, I reason to myself. It is lack of money that prevents me from visiting some posh clinic on the UES to sit among the Park Avenue mom’s, waiting my turn to see the doctor with the needle. I don’t know enough about anti-wrinkle cream and its effects to start using it. Is it vanity or knowing that looks allows one more choice? It’s only rarely a competition with another.

Listened to NPR’s All Songs Considered 16 Number One Songs From Our First 16 Years. One of the podcast curators talked about how he spent his first paycheck from his job there on a stereo, put on a Bjork record, and let the music surround him. I’ve never thought about getting a sound system, but it does sound nice to listen to music in away that is encompassing. I imagine doing so in a windowless, at the center of one’s home, rooms on either side, but shelves set up with cds of records – sepia toned, and I see that I’m envisioning John Cusack’s room in High Fidelity.